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Central Coast real estate market suffers under COVID-19

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KION

SALINAS, Calif. (KION) The Coronavirus pandemic has presented new challenges to the way people buy and sell houses.

The difference is clear in the comparison between April 2019 and April 2020. Home sales are down by 49 percent in San Benito County, 44 percent in Monterey County and 33 percent in Santa Cruz County, according to the Multiple Listing Service.

New restrictions on showing houses have contributed to the to changes in the real estate game. The days of open houses and showings to more than two people at a time are put on pause, according to the California Association of Realtors.

"This is much more impersonal," home seller Jessica Rodgers said.

Rodgers is selling her family's Salinas home, and she has had to adjust her approach in doing so under shelter-in-place orders.

"When somebody wants to take a look at the house, then we’ll vacate,
obviously," Rodgers said. "We can’t be in the home."

MLS Listings shows that the number of houses on the market was down nearly 30 percent in April compared to that time in 2019 in Monterey County. That's partly because showings weren't available in April, according to MLS Listings Vice President of Industry Relations Larry Knapp. And virtual showings just won't cut it for many people.

"Frankly, most buyers aren’t willing to sign a contract to buy a house if they haven’t been in it,” Knapp said.

But now, Knapp said, restricted showings--like the ones Rodgers is doing--are allowed. And shelter-in-place orders will likely continue to relax in the coming months.

“We’re going to be phasing in, and I think we’re going to be seeing that in the real estate market,” Knapp said.

But selling a house right now isn't just about the difficulties in marketing it. Rodgers said, with kids, it's no easy feat.

“There’s just a lot to do and pack and organize and clean and keep clean
with that many kids in a house,” Rodgers said.

As shelter-in-place orders ease up, it remains to be seen whether sellers will gain more confidence in listing their homes and buyers will be more eager.

Monterey County / San Benito County / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories

Shannon Longworth

Shannon Longworth is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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